So often these days, we are given advice on the newest “hack” for improving at business tasks like leadership or management. Oftentimes, it’s not a revolutionary approach that we need, but refocusing ourselves on the fundamentals.
This can often be seen in our leisure pursuits in activities like golf, for instance. Most of us have gotten frustrated with our game and have hoped to find quick tweaks or fixes. The reality is that usually, going back to the core fundamentals: proper grip, alignment, stance, aim, and a smooth and easy swing letting the clubhead do the work. Master those, and you’ll probably shave a few strokes off your game.
The same can be said about improving your business management technique. Go back to the fundamentals. Study them. Honestly assess how well you’ve mastered those fundamentals. Pick one or two to focus on at a time and you’ll see yourself improve.
In this post, we’ll take a look at some of the most important business management fundamentals. You may find that some of these are strengths for you. If that’s the case, keep up the good work, and don’t let yourself slip. If some of them are challenges, then this is your opportunity to hold yourself accountable and strive to build a more solid professional foundation.
Effective organization is a must for long-term success in management. Now, while organization itself is a must, you are free to find the systems that work best with you and others.
Have you ever stepped into someone’s office and been shocked to see papers, books, computer accessories, maybe some old food containers and a bunch of other items just strewn everywhere? Yet, somehow, this person makes it work. If you ask them they’ll probably joke that it’s their own specific filing system.
This may or may not be true. Let’s assume that it is. This is fine for someone that works alone. The problem is that when you work in a team, or more importantly lead a team, a system like this (if you can call it a system) will run into problems. Imagine telling a person on your team to run and get a report while you begin to run a meeting, knowing that they’d have to find it in this horde.
While some people may have a hidden genius that makes order out of chaos, most people honestly do not. A clean, uncluttered workspace helps you organize thoughts and ideas, and provide an orderly presence for employees. It sets a tone of order and professionalism around your office.
So, while you are free to come up with a system of your own, it should be one that inspires employees to make sure papers, files, ideas, and information are neatly categorized and easily accessible when you need them.
We’ve all run into situations in our lives where we were caught unprepared. There’s a saying and it’s one we’ve all heard and probably ignored at one time: “fail to plan and you plan to fail.” It’s an inevitability that some aspect of your daily tasks will be reacting to unforeseen events. However, this shouldn’t be the main focus of what you do.
Unless you make a plan and largely stick to it, all you’ll be doing is blowing whichever way the wind takes you. Having predictability and a plan will also serve as a beacon of order and calm to your employees. They need predictability to work on their own fundamentals and to have the time and space to build skills and competency.
While it’s true that your planning will always need to change here and there, you must set priority items that need to be taken care of in a prompt and regular manner. For example, you know that it’s extremely important that employee reviews be conducted regularly and on time. It’s a priority but you fail to plan for it. A new “all hands on deck” project comes your way, and you simply forget to do the reviews.
Your employees will be waiting for their reviews. They may feel sheepish about reminding you, and worse they won’t be getting the feedback they need to improve performance or validate the hard work they have been doing.
By contrast, imagine you have a plan. Something comes up, and you can be in a better position to say, “This new project has left me a little busy for your review next week. Let’s push it to next week instead.” You and they know they can depend on this promise.
While you yourself may not be an accountant, you need to have a solid understanding of business accounting. Your plans, your priorities, and your tasks all hinge on maximizing profitability and efficiency.
You’ll need to have a handle on profit, loss, income, expenses, depreciation taxes and other accounting principles so you can be in the best position to make decisions that impact your business and employees.
Knowing your business
When you step into a fast-food restaurant, see if you can spot the manager. It’s often very impressive to see these people working in such a fast-paced environment. One minute they might be helping a newer employee, another minute they may be scooping and salting the french fries, and later, ordering supplies.
Many of these individuals started from the bottom, cooking food in the back of the restaurant. They learned, and advanced and eventually became a manager. Without their calming, knowledgeable presence, it might be totally chaotic.
In a larger business entity, there too are sometimes people who, as the classic example goes, “started in the mailroom.” However, many people arrive out of business school or from other companies. You can’t necessarily have done every job, but you need to have an excellent understanding of how your business runs. This means understanding the daily customer-facing or B2B operations on up to the large strategic decisions.
If you don’t have good people skills, it will be nearly impossible to be a good manager. Some people are certainly born with good people skills. Everyone, however, can assess and improve how they listen, communicate information, and interact with others.
There are a host of wonderful books to read on this topic, and many workshops to attend to improve your people skills. It all starts with some honest self-assessment and even soliciting frank feedback from your peers.
Rock Solid Fundamentals
Improving your business management fundamentals is an ongoing process. You don’t need to tackle everything at once. Pick a topic and a time period, then engage in a process of reflection, learning, and improvement.
Living Pono is dedicated to communicating business management concepts with Hawaiian values. Founded by Kevin May, an established and successful leader and mentor, Living Pono is your destination to learn about how to live your life righteously and how that can have positive effects in your career. If you have any questions, please leave a comment below or contact us here. Also, join our mailing list below, so you can be alerted when a new article is released.
Finally, consider following the Living Pono Podcast to listen to episodes about living righteously, business management concepts, and interviews with business leaders.